Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Isaiah 3: 1-5

Isaiah 3

God Will Remove the Leaders
 1 For behold, the Lord GOD of hosts is going to remove from Jerusalem and Judah
Both supply and support, the whole supply of bread
And the whole supply of water;
2 The mighty man and the warrior,
The judge and the prophet,
The diviner and the elder,
3 The captain of fifty and the honorable man,
The counselor and the expert artisan,
And the skillful enchanter.
4 And I will make mere lads their princes,
And capricious children will rule over them,
5 And the people will be oppressed,
Each one by another, and each one by his neighbor;
The youth will storm against the elder
And the inferior against the honorable.

If you thought to question why God would issue the command to "Stop regarding man....," (Isaiah 2:22), He explains in Chapter 3 of Isaiah. Using the title "Lord God of hosts"--which breaks down into 'Lord,' or Adonai, and 'God of hosts,' which is a title of a mighty warrior--God reclaims His position as THE One in charge by deposing of all other purported leaders.

"Both supply and support" reads verse 1. The two-pronged deposition involves removing the physical, bodily sustenance of the people (bread and water) as well as their intellectual, emotional, spiritual, you-name-it sustenance--all of which is God-provided! Instead of 'support,' other translations use 'staff,' which means everything from a literal walking-stick to any type of support. [Strong's] Instead of "leaning on the everlasting arms," Judah and Jerusalem leaned on everything but.

Verses 2 and 3 list the supporting roles that had superseded God's. As I read through this list, I can't help but draw parallels to what we do in our society today. We relish the life of the rich, famous celebrity. We seek wisdom and knowledge from tarot cards, horoscopes and 1-900-Psychics. Successful people are attractive. "Shrinks" fix our problems. We can easily make our own list. How far are we from looking like Judah and Jerusalem today? Who receives the Oscar for best-supporting role in getting our lives together?

Just as "the idols will completely vanish" (Isa. 2:18), so, too, will God remove the supply and support. The judgment described here will have a double fulfillment. The end-times will bring the ultimate destruction of these supports. But Judah would see a more immediate fulfillment, after Isaiah's prophecy, in its captivity to Babylon. The cross-reference for verse 2's "mighty man and the warrior" is in II Kings 24:
"And Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came to the city [Jerusalem], while his servants were besieging it. Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he and his mother and his servants and his captains and his officials. So the king of Babylon took him captive in the eighth year of his reign.... Then he led away into exile all Jerusalem and all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land."
--II Kings 24: 11, 12 and 14
Besides removing those in power, God also has the authority to place people in the capacity to rule. Here, though, His choices will not be for the edification of the current system of government, as He will place "mere lads" and "capricious children" to rule. (vs. 4) We must explore the word capricious, because it has as much depth of meaning through our Romance languages as it does in Hebrew. Literally translated, "Caprious children will rule" means "arbitrary power will rule." Strong's says the word means "caprice (as a fit coming on), i.e. vexation." Think of a frustrated, erratically behaving child having a tantrum. Or, think about this image from the breaking down of the roots in the Italian word capriccio: "capo=head + riccio=hedgehog, suggesting a convulsive shudder in which the hair stood on end like a hedgehog's spines." [World English Dictionary]

Sounds a big "flabby" to me! (See last week's post)

Finally, verse 5, can we be surprised by this given the type of leadership to come: "And the people will be oppressed...."? Again, looking at some Hebrew, the word for oppressed comes from a Hebrew root meaning "to drive (an animal, a workman, a debtor, an army)." [Strong's] The people will drive themselves to ruin.

God had a plan when He created the human being. He didn't just want to create another living thing. He created something special, unique, relational. And when man was alone without others like him, God created woman to join him--relationally. "Be fruitful and multiply" was God's encouragement of human relationships. We would be in relationship with God, but we would also have the relationships of others in support. 

But the sin in the Garden has forever damaged the quality of earthly relationships. As God told Cain, "you must master it." (Genesis 4:7) The crux of our relationship problems is not with the people but with the SIN that the people bring into a relationship! Can we stop the oppressiveness? God sent His Son so that our relationship with Him could be forever changed with our belief. It is only through that relationship and our leaning on the staff of His Word that we can work on loving our neighbors as ourselves.

"The Lord is my shepherd....He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.... Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.... Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. "
--Excerpts from Psalm 23 (emphasis mine)

Who's in charge?.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Isaiah 3: 6-8

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).